Sequester should chop federal fat, not bone

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:55 AM

Deroy Murdock

NEW YORK — Imagine that your boss nicked your pay by 2.4 percent. Would you dodge next month’s rent, skip your insulin purchases and unplug your refrigerator to lower your power bill? Most likely, you would cancel your Showtime subscription, repair -- not replace -- your old shoes and ski Utah in 2014 (maybe).

In his immeasurable brilliance, President Barack Obama would pick premium cable instead of insulin and Park City over paying the landlord.

Similarly, as March 1 triggers the sequester -- an automatic spending-cut mechanism that Obama himself initiated in July 2011 -- Obama won’t curb Washington’s extravagance to finance this year’s $85 billion sequester. Instead, like a fiscal Stephen King, Obama frightens Americans into embracing Big Government by siphoning Uncle Sam’s bone marrow rather than giving him liposuction.

Fiscal Year 2013’s $3.553 trillion budget will be $15 billon larger than FY 2012’s. Nonetheless, Obama hysterically claims that the sequester’s “cuts” mean:

-- Fewer childhood vaccines. Next stop, a measles renaissance?

-- Furloughed federal meat inspectors. This would present Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” in IMAX 3-D at your local supermarket.

-- “Airport security will see cutbacks,” Obama prophesied. Lines will grow so long that a Transportation Security Administration frisking will come as a relief.

-- “Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go,” Obama warned. After all, government’s last priority should be to protect property and prevent homicide.

-- “The sequester makes it awfully, awfully tough” to shield America from terrorist attacks, declared Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Why should phantom budget restraint frustrate al-Qaida’s pitch-black ambitions?

It would be bad enough if these really were Washington’s only options. Obviously, they’re not. Washington can and should whack spending without making life easier for rubella, E. coli, militant Islam and other lethal, low-level life forms.

Among many others, these plans could help:

-- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who co-authored the Decrease Spending Now Act. It would shift to debt relief a whopping $45 billion in tax dollars now stalled in dormant federal accounts.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars are borrowed and then left unspent because Congress routinely bites off more than it can chew,” Rubio stated. Added Price: “Leaving billions of taxpayer dollars to gather dust in federal coffers only encourages fiscal irresponsibility. By rescinding this unspent and unobligated money ... we can contribute to the larger goal of breaking the government’s habit of borrowing and spending money we cannot afford.”

-- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would cut $85 billion annually by not replacing departed federal employees ($6.5 billion in savings), bringing the $128,226 average yearly federal civilian compensation closer to the private sector’s $64,560 (reducing $32 billion), curtailing federal travel by 25 percent ($2.25 billion), limiting Pentagon research to military applications ($6 billion), requiring competitive bids on government contracts, paying market wages on federal projects ($19 billion) and halving foreign aid ($20 billion).

-- The Public Interest Research Group and the National Taxpayers Union jointly identified $1 trillion in 10-year savings through 56 budget cuts that liberals and conservatives should love. These range from killing a $10 million biodiesel education grant to a $160 billion modernization of federal computer systems. The $77 billion Crop Insurance program should be uprooted. The feds own some 55,500 buildings that are “not utilized or underutilized.” Sell them. Even giving them away would save taxpayers $17 billion in maintenance expenses -- on empty buildings!

The research group and taxpayers union urge Medicare to calibrate excessive labor and office-space outlays with the actual prices that prevail in lower-cost communities. Savings: $47.6 billion.

Rather than spend $179,750 an hour to fly Air Force One from rally to rally to demonize Republicans, Obama should sit still long enough to send Congress a budget request. The federal Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 mandates that the president’s spending plan reach Capitol Hill by the first Monday of February. Obama’s last two budgets arrived late, and this year’s is AWOL.

Before Obama barks at Republicans yet again, he should start doing his job.

Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor and a media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Email

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